The Face on Your Shirt Says You Can't Wear It

Look at the two shirts above, one has the face of China’s former chairman, Mao Zedong. The other features the likeness failed presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Which shirt are you legally allowed to wear? Both and neither. That’s because of a little known part of Intellectual Property Law known as the Right to Publicity, which gives people the right to control how their image and phrases associated with them are used publicly. This right then passes on to the person’s family after their death and lasts for a varying amount of time afterward depending on the state. Now let’s clear one thing up, you’re not in actual trouble if you’re wearing a shirt with a person’s face on it. The company that sold you the shirt without that person’s permission is breaking the law though. However this kind of infringement on a person’s image often goes unchecked and unstopped. So while you’re not in trouble for wearing one of these shirts, you should feel bad that you supported a company that’s in the business of violating people’s rights.